Water levels have hit their peak, but flows remain high: Hernen



Update, April 22: Further to this story, water levels peaked on the Big East River on Saturday, April 20 at 4 a.m. at the Williamsport gauge. Water levels will begin to recede as the water works its way through the system, according to Steve Hernen, Huntsville fire chief and director of operations and protective services for the Town.

Snowload and any further precipitation will impact how quickly water levels start to go down.

Residents are once more being asked to stay away from fast-moving water as water levels remain high.

“Usually, once the water peaks it will drop back down within 48 hours,” said Hernen. “So yes, the water levels should start to go down soon.”

He said Huntsville OPP have had calls from motorists who went around roadblocks or drove on flooded roads and then found themselves needing help.

Hernen said at this time there are no foreseeable evacuations planned. “For the most part, the residents in flood-prone areas have moved to higher ground as they see this every year and can look after themselves.”

In other years, Huntsville has seen much higher flow rates, noted Hernen, however, this spring “we are seeing a prolonged flow.”

He said the municipality continues to monitor flows. “We are monitoring the water flows and dealing with roads, which are flooded. Until the water levels drop, there is not much anyone can do.” Hernen warned that water levels could continue to rise before they start receding.

The Muskoka River crested its bank and spread through the intersection of John Street and Cann Street. This photo was taken the afternoon of April 22.

The Muskoka River crested its bank and spread through the intersection of John Street and Cann Street. This photo was taken the afternoon of April 22.

Businesses half way up Cann Street between John and Chaffey have been affected

Businesses half way up Cann Street between John and Chaffey have been affected. This photo was taken the afternoon of April 22.

Calls to the MNRF (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) have gone unanswered.

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  1. Year after year the same problem every spring.
    Why do people build on known flood plains?
    I will never understand the human animal.

  2. Jennifer Turney on

    For the record, people living in flood prone areas don’t see water levels like this ‘every year’. Some years are managable, some are worse. It’s an odd thing to see someone say they can ‘take care of themselves’; seems a bit dismissive.
    In an average spring, absolutely. The water isn’t more than an inconvenience. The height of the water flooding properties down on Hutcheson Beach Rd, as an example, is very similar to the levels seen in 2013, the supposed ‘hundred year flood’. For the other 12 years we’ve lived there, the levels have been far, far lower.
    I would hesitate to suggest anyone in our community should ever have to ‘take care of themselves’, regardless of where they live.

    • Scott Tempest on

      Jennifer Turney I agree with you. Water levels this year have exceeded what we recorded on the Muskoka River in 2013. I find it concerning that we have seen water levels go past the 2013 levels but there has been little attention to this by local officials. In 2013 we were seeing regular daily updates by a variety of local government agencies with some level of forecasting in terms of when things would peak, etc.. I have seen none of this so far this year. To be clear, I am not saying people don’t have to act on their own and should sit back waiting for local officials to tell them what to do, but some level of diligence and information sharing would be helpful to all. As another commentor in this section noted we see this kind of thing every year. If that’s the case then we should similarly see some level of attention and public awareness on an annual basis that looks at water levels, flow, predictions, etc. The annual flooding around here creates a lot of work in terms of closures, damages to homes, roads, etc so we need to see a commensurate level of information sharing in a way that allows people easy access (and not buried in an obscure web page somewhere), in much the same way that flood-prone areas (like Winnipeg) have developed over time.

  3. I find it odd that our local Fire Department gives all of the updates, but we hear very little from the Provincial M.N.R or M.O.E. Kudos to all of the local fire, police and town workers for their fine work during this (almost annual) event.

  4. Brian Tapley on

    If you expect MOE to do anything constructive, I’d advise you to find out how Spock and Kirk take their coffee as they will visit you with the Enterprise far sooner than you will gain any satisfaction from MOE!

    Seriously though, it tends to flood this area pretty regularly. Why not raise John Street I think it is, the one along the river. Make it effectively a dike and put back flow preventers in any pipes that cross it. Add a couple of sumps where one could drop in pumps for food water….sort of like New Orleans on a small scale, and this problem would go away. Vastly cheaper than some other jobs being done around town.

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